Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith to step down in 2022

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Days after one of his officers was convicted of manslaughter, Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith announced he is retiring in 2022.

Smith confirmed the news to FOX4’s John Holt on Tuesday afternoon. A specific date for his retirement was not provided.

Smith met Tuesday with Mayor Quinton Lucas and Mark Tolbert, president of the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners, according to Lucas’ office who declined to comment.

Capt. Leslie Foreman, a spokesperson for the Kansas City Police Department, issued the following statement:

“When Chief Smith was hired in August of 2017, he made a commitment to the BOPC that he would stay in this position no more than 5 years. As per his commitment, he plans to retire sometime in the upcoming year, 2022. He will announce that date well in advance to ensure a smooth transition for the police department.”

Social justice advocates, some religious leaders and even one council member have been calling for Smith’s resignation or removal for well over a year now, largely since the protests in summer 2020. 

“I want people to know we tried to work with Chief Smith and get him to make the appropriate changes to meet the needs of the community. When that didn’t happen we started maneuvering toward asking for his termination or for him to leave,” More 2 Executive Director Lora McDonald said.

They’ve pointed to the city’s rising crime and homicide rates, transparency problems and officer misconduct in the department. But in the past, Smith has held firm that he had no plans of retiring.

Jackson County Sheriff Darryl Forte, who served as KCPD chief before Smith, tweeted after news of Smith’s retirement broke, saying, “I wish Chief Smith the best during his retirement. Few know what it’s like to serve in the capacity of chief of a major city. None of us are perfect. Let’s all contribute to bringing law enforcement and other segments of the community together.”

“Chief Smith has been an excellent chief, done a good job, done what he said he was going to do,” Police Board Commissioner Don Wagner said.

“There would not be a vote to ask Chief Smith to resign, it would not carry,” Wagner said rejecting the notion a vote to remove Smith from command was forthcoming.

Smith’s retirement announcement comes just four days after a Jackson County judge found Kansas City police Det. Eric DeValkenaere guilty of involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action in the 2019 shooting death of Cameron Lamb.

Judge J. Dale Youngs issued the verdict last Friday, one week after DeValkenaere’s trial ended.

Youngs made it clear his decision was a constitutional one, citing privacy and the Fourth Amendment.

Before issuing his verdict, Youngs said DeValkenaere and his partner had no probable cause to be in Lamb’s garage and did not have a search warrant or evidence to obtain a search warrant.

DeValkenaere and his partner were called the Lamb’s neighborhood to a traffic incident near East 41st Street and College Avenue on Dec. 13, 2019. A police helicopter saw a red pickup, believed to have been involved in the incident, turn into Lamb’s garage. The two officers followed Lamb onto his property.

During the trial, DeValkenaere admitted to shooting Lamb, but said it was to protect his partner after Lamb pulled a gun and pointed it at the other officer. DeValkenaere’s partner testified that he didn’t see a weapon in Lamb’s hand.

“If we can protest, we need to work on the next leadership transition here,” McDonald said calling for continued public engagement.

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